María Bibiana Benítez

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María Bibiana Benítez
María Bibiana Benítez.jpg
Puerto Rico's first known female poet and playwright
Born María Bibiana Benítez Batista
December 10, 1783
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Died April 18, 1873
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Occupation poet, playwright
Nationality Puerto Rican
Notable works Soneto, Diálogo Alegórico, A La Vejez
Relatives José Benítez Bermudez (father) ; Juana Constanza Batista Rodriguez (mother) ; Alejandrina Benítez de Gautier (niece); José Gautier Benítez (grand-nephew)

María Bibiana Benítez (December 10, 1783 – April 18, 1873), was Puerto Rico's first female poet and one of its first playwrights.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

Benitez, (born María Bibiana Benítez Batista [note 1]) was born into a middle-class family in the town of Aguadilla. Her father Jose Benitez Bermudez (1762-1832), was a lieutenant in the Spanish Army who on April 28, 1797 defended "La Puntilla" against an English invasion. He was married to Juana Constanza Batista Rodriguez (d. 1837). Her family loved literature and owned a private library which contained a collection of the best books available at the time. Her father could afford such a luxury since he also held an important position within the Spanish colonial government. Benítez was able to attend the best private schools where she learned about poetry and composition.[2]

In 1813, she moved to the coastal town of Luquillo, where she wrote the majority of her poems. In 1826, one of her brothers Pedro Jose Benítez Batista and his wife died and she took it upon herself to raise her orphaned niece Alejandrina Benítez de Gautier, who would in the future become a renowned poet herself. Benitez was also the great-aunt of whom is considered to be the greatest Puerto Rican poet, Jose Gautier Benítez.[2]

Literary works[edit]

In 1832, Benitez published her first poem, La Ninfa de Puerto Rico, which is considered to be the first poem written by a Puerto Rican woman. She also became the first Puerto Rican woman to write a dramatic play[not in citation given] when she wrote La Cruz del Morro (The Cross of El Morro). The play was based on the attack of the city of San Juan by the Dutch with the intention of invading Puerto Rico in 1625 and the heroic defense by the islanders. This was the first dramatic play written in Puerto Rico dealing with a local historical event.[2][3] Among her poems are: "Soneto" (1839), "Diálogo Alegórico" (1858) and "A La Vejez."

Later years[edit]

Benitez moved to the Calle Cristo in city of San Juan. In San Juan she presented her play and she also published the rest of her poems. Among her better known poems are "Soneto" (1839) and "Dialogo Alegorico" (1858). Maria Bibiana Benitez died on April 18, 1873 in San Juan Puerto Rico.[1]

There is a book written about her life titled "Los Silencios De Maria Bibiana Benitez" (English: The Silence of Maria Bibiana Benitez) by Maria Arrillaga.


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Benítez and the second or maternal family name is Batista.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "María Bibiana Benítez - Primera Mujer Poetisa". Salon Hogar (in Spanish). 2005. 
  2. ^ a b c d Grupo Editorial EPRL (September 15, 2014). "Benítez, María Bibiana". Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico. 
  3. ^ Benítez, María Bibiana (1832), La Ninfa de Puerto Rico a la Justicia (in Spanish) 

External links[edit]